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Diaz allegedly trying to stop rival media firm

By Cherrie Anne E. Villahermosa

KOROR (Palau Horizon, Mar 25, 2009) - The Supreme Court has granted the Temporary Restraining Order filed by the owners of Roll ‘Em Productions and ordered Senator Alfonso Diaz to stop making defamatory remarks against the businessmen.

Chief Justice Arthur Ngiraklsong on March 20 granted the TRO filed by Jeff Barabe, Kassi Berg, Mike Fox, Michael Spis Gordon and Hilde "Jill" Senior against Diaz.

The court ordered Diaz to stop from having any contact with the businessmen; from having any discussions about them with their known business clients or grantors; from interfering with any of their potential off-island business clients; from making contact with any foreign governments and intergovernmental organizations such as UNESCO; from intimidating, harassing or filing complaints to agencies within Palau and from using his color of authority to discredit or unfairly disparage their business.

The TRO will expire on March 30.

Barabe and the other owners of Roll ‘Em Production Inc. filed a motion for preliminary injunction against Diaz and the motion was scheduled to be heard on March 30 at 9 a.m.

The court in granting the TRO said that it appears that Barabe’s group will suffer immediate and irreparable harm, injury and damage before Diaz can be heard in opposition to the issuance of a TRO.

The court added that Diaz interference with the plaintiff’s UNESCO award which just occurred on March 10 and the Senator’s threat to seek for contacts "throughout the world" will give Barabe and the other owners’ irreparable injury and mental and emotional sufferings.

Barabe’s group filed a complaint of assault, defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress, unlawful communication with foreign government, abuse of power, harassment, unfair business practices, intentional interference with contractual relations and intentional interference with prospective business relations against Diaz.

According to the amended complaint filed on March 20, Diaz on June 23, 2008, called Roll ‘Em Productions office and threatened to kill Barabe.

The complaint stated that aside from verbal threats, Diaz also made threats through emails.

The complaint stated that Diaz on a regular basis defames Roll ‘Em Productions on his radio programs which was also aired in the local television.

The amended complaint also stated that Diaz on February 5 introduced a Senate Bill prohibiting foreigners from producing media for television broadcast and from getting a license to operate a television business.

The complaint stated that Diaz voted for its passage on first reading in the Senate.

The complaint stated that Diaz wrote a complaint to the Foreign Investment Board (FIB) and Division of Revenue and Taxation urging the agencies to conduct investigation on Roll ‘Em for the revocation of their permit and for tax audit.

The complaint also alleged that Diaz sent emails to UNESCO and accused Roll ‘Em of unlawfully operating a business in Palau.

The complaint stated that as a result of Diaz complaint, UNESCO office advised Roll ‘Em that its grant was suspended.

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